As cities across California grapple with an ongoing housing crisis and stubbornly high office vacancy rates, policymakers at the state and local levels are beginning to explore ways to encourage projects that convert vacant office space into housing. Downtown San Francisco has experienced particularly high office vacancy rates as it recovers from the pandemic, and it is unsurprising that two of the City’s political leaders—Assemblymember Matt Haney and Mayor London Breed—recently took steps to facilitate office-to-residential conversions.Continue Reading Momentum for Streamlining and Subsidizing Office-to-Residential Conversion Projects Builds in Sacramento and San Francisco
On February 23, 2023, the Committee on Housing and Buildings at the New York City Council held a hearing on four local laws and three resolutions, all of which, if passed, would have vast impacts on residential housing development in New York City. While all of these pieces of legislation are important, this blog post focuses predominantly on Intro 196, otherwise known as the Community Opportunity to Purchase Act (“COPA”).Continue Reading The New York City Council Sets its Sights on Non-Profit Housing Ownership
Last week, a trio of bills related to last-mile warehouses were introduced by Council Member Alexa Avilés, and co-sponsored by Council Members Jennifer Gutiérrez (District 34, Williamsburg), Sandy Nurse (District 37, Bushwick), Selvena Brooks-Powers (District 31, Far Rockaway), Julie Won (District 26, Astoria) Shahana Hanif (District 39, Gowanus/Park Slope); and Lincoln Restler (District 33, Downtown Brooklyn), Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, and Brooklyn BP Antonio Reynoso. At the press conference, it was expressed that these bills were introduced in order to combat the proliferation of last-mile warehouses in low-income communities of color who are subject to more air and noise pollution as a result of the truck traffic. Continue Reading Last Mile Warehouse Bills and Proposed Special Permit
In the latest effort by the Biden administration to promote consideration of climate and environmental justice impacts in federal decision-making, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) recently issued interim guidance for federal agencies analyzing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and climate change under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Under the new guidance, which is similar to previous guidance that had been withdrawn under the Trump administration, NEPA review documents generally will be expected to quantify GHG emissions caused by federal actions, discuss the resulting climate impacts, and incorporate environmental justice considerations. While the guidance recommends methods for conducting the necessary technical analysis, it sidesteps key legal issues surrounding climate change analysis under NEPA, leaving federal agencies—and project proponents seeking federal approvals or funding—with difficult questions to resolve.Continue Reading Updated CEQ Guidance for Analysis of GHG Emissions Sidesteps Key Legal Issues
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In response to the tragic balcony collapse that killed seven students in Berkeley in 2015, Governor Jerry Brown approved Senate Bill No. 721 on September 17, 2018. The bill, commonly referred to as the “Balcony Inspection Law”, went into effect on January 1, 2019 and the deadline for initial inspections is January 1, 2025. The Balcony Inspection Law amended Section 1954 of the Civil Code, and added Article 2.2 (commencing with Section 17973) to Chapter 5 of Part 1.5 of Division 13 of the Health and Safety Code, relating to building standards.Continue Reading Multifamily Building Owners: Are you Prepared to Meet Balcony Inspection Requirements by the January 1, 2025 Deadline?
The City and State of New York have made a handful of announcements regarding plans to roll out imminent changes to the real estate development process to help encourage development and tackle the City’s affordable housing crisis. Given the current obstacles facing development, this change warrants quoting Lizzo: “It’s about damn time.”Continue Reading It’s About Damn Time
As of January 31st, the deadline for many Bay Area cities and counties to adopt legally compliant Housing Elements now has passed, and many jurisdictions remain without certifications from the…Continue Reading As Deadline for Housing Element Certification Passes, “Builder’s Remedy” and AB 1398 Remedies Loom for Noncompliant Bay Area Cities and Counties
In an effort to address the ongoing California housing crisis and exorbitant development costs, the 2022 Legislative Season saw the introduction of approximately 40 housing-related bills, resulting in the passage…Continue Reading Housing Legislation Update 2023
In the closing weeks of 2022, the California Air Resources Board (“CARB” or “Board”) approved its final 2022 Scoping Plan, which sets forth a detailed roadmap to accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions in order for the state to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045, with an interim goal of achieving a reduction in GHG emissions of 40% below the 1990 level by 2030 (the goal adopted by the State in 2017’s SB 32).Continue Reading California Air Resources Board Adopts 2022 Scoping Plan
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday published a final rule defining “Waters of the United States,” or WOTUS, which determines the extent of federal regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act. 88 Fed. Reg. 3004-3144 (Jan. 18, 2023). The new rule largely reinstates the longstanding definition of WOTUS first adopted in 1986, as modified by the Supreme Court’s opinion in Rapanos v. United States,547 U.S. 715 (2006). But the final rule comes as the Supreme Court again considers the proper scope of WOTUS in Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency, which will likely determine the viability of the new definition.Continue Reading Turbulence Ahead for the Clean Water Act: Agencies Redefine “Waters of the United States” as SCOTUS Prepares to Rule in Sackett v. EPA